- NAME: Henry VIII
- OCCUPATION: Political Leader, King
- BIRTH DATE: June 28, 1491
- DEATH DATE: January 28, 1547
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Greenwich, London, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: London, England, United Kingdom
- Originally: Henry Tudor
- AKA: King Henry VIII
- AKA: Henry VIII
- AKA: Henry VIII of England
Best Known For
Henry VIII, king of England, was famously married six times and played a critical role in the English Reformation, turning his country into a Protestant nation.
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The Book of Leviticus stated that a man who takes his brother's wife shall remain childless. Though Catherine had borne him a child, that child was a girl, which, in Henry's logic, did not count. He thusly petitioned the pope for an annulment. The debate, during which Catherine fought mightily to maintain both her own and her daughter's titles, lasted for six years.
In 1533, Henry's mistress, Anne Boleyn,
became pregnant. Henry went over the pope's head and found his saving grace in Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn married secretly in January 1533. In August of that year, Anne gave birth to a girl child, Elizabeth.
In 1534, Henry VIII declared himself supreme head of the Church of England. From 1514 to 1529, he had relied on Thomas Wolsey, a Catholic cardinal, to guide his domestic and foreign policies. Wolsey enjoyed a lavish existence under Henry, but when Wolsey failed to deliver Henry's quick annulment from Catherine, the cardinal quickly fell out of favor. After 16 years of power, Wolsey was arrested and falsely charged with treason. He subsequently died in custody. Henry's actions upon Wolsey gave a strong signal to the pope that he would not honor the wishes of even the highest clergy and would instead exercise full power in every realm of his court.
After Henry declared his supremacy, the Christian church separated, forming the Church of England. Henry instituted several statutes that outlined the relationship between the king and the pope and the structure of the Church of England: the Act of Appeals, the Acts of Succession and the first Act of Supremacy, declaring the king was "the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England." These macro reforms trickled down to minute details of worship. Henry ordered clergy to preach against superstitious images, relics, miracles and pilgrimages, and to remove almost all candles from religious settings. His 1545 catechism, called the King's Primer, left out the saints.
Fully separated now from the pope, the Church of England was under England's rule, not Rome's. From 1536 to 1537, a great northern uprising known as the Pilgrimage of Grace took hold, during which 30,000 people rebelled against the king's changes. It was the only major threat to Henry's security as monarch. The leader, Robert Aske, and 200 others were executed. When John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More, Henry's former Lord Chancellor, refused to take the oath to the king, they were beheaded at Tower Hill.
Inside the court, Queen Anne suffered greatly from her failure to produce a living male heir. After she miscarried twice, Henry became interested in Jane Seymour, one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting. In an all-out effort to leave his unfruitful marriage, Henry contrived an elaborate story that Anne had committed adultery, had incestuous relations and was plotting to murder him. Henry charged three men on account of their adultery with his wife, and on May 15, 1536, he put her on trial.
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